After his heart rate came down, Valley boys basketball coach Wade Morrill was quick with a quote to describe what happened in the last five seconds of his team’s Western D semifinal against Hyde.
“Jack Nicklaus, the great golfer once said, ‘The harder you work, the luckier you get,’” Morrill said.
It took a lot of hard work and a little luck for the Cavaliers to advance to their first Western D final since 2008.
Valley tied the game on a layup by Dylan Belanger with 5.1 seconds left, gained possession when Hyde was called for backcourt and won the game on a pair of foul shots by Carrington Miller with 3.3 seconds left to earn a 55-53 win at the Augusta Civic Center on Wednesday.
“Down by two with about 26 seconds left and panic starts to set in,” said Valley senior Josh West, who scored 20 points. “Luckily Jordan (Gillespie’s) good defense forced the backcourt and we got the ball in bounds and got fouled.”
No. 3 Valley improves to 17-3 and advances to play the either No. 1 Forest Hills or No. No. 4 A.R. Gould in the regional final Saturday. No. 2 Hyde finishes at 16-4.
The Cavaliers trailed by two after Wondo Shaw hit a foul shot with 1:04 left. The Cavaliers missed a shot and turned the ball over, but Warsame Mohamed, who finished with 24 points, missed the front end of a 1-and-1, giving Valley a chance to tie the game.
Carrington Miler drove to the basket and dished off to Dylan Belanger, who made his first basket of the tournament with 10 seconds left to tie the game.
Hyde called time out with 5.1 seconds left and inbounded the ball at half court. The ball was inbounded to Wilson MacMillan, who was forced into the backcourt, giving Valley possession.
“The difference in that ball game was the last five seconds,” Hyde coach Peter Rowe said. “If we execute the last play, best case scenario we win, if not, we go to overtime. We didn’t execute the play.”
The play, Rowe said, was designed get a backdoor lob to Mohamed.
“We didn’t make the pass and he didn’t make the cut.”
On ensuing inbounds play, Valley passed the ball to Carrington Miller, who was fouled immediately. Miller calmly sank both free throws and Mohamed’s desperation 3 was no good.
“I was just looking to get the ball and create my own shot,” Miller said. “Luckily I was able to get the ball and I was hit in the face and I made two big foul shots.”
Before a back-and-forth second half, Hyde threatened to run away in the second quarter. The Phoenix went on an 8-1 run and Mohamed, who finished with 26 points, scored six points in the quarter as Hyde took an 11-point lead.
West then scored nine straight points, including four from the foul line, as Valley closed to within two, 25-23, at the half.
“Carrington was getting denied, and the whole game he works his butt off to get open,” West said. “I guess the looks were there, so if they are there I will take them.”
The teams traded the lead in the third quarter as Miller and Mohamed scored eight points each.
Scott Martin — 621-5618